How does age affect the risk for transfusion reactions?

Updated: Jan 12, 2021
  • Author: S Gerald Sandler, MD, FCAP, FACP; Chief Editor: Emmanuel C Besa, MD  more...
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Acute transfusion reactions may occur at any age. Age-related variations are as follows:

  • Because newborns do not form antibodies to ABO blood group antigens (anti-A, B, or AB) during the first few months of life (ie, infants do not form anti-A or anti-B until 3-4 months after birth), acute ABO-related transfusion reactions are not observed in this age group. [52] The presence of any transplacentally transferred maternal IgG anti-A, B, or AB is unlikely to cause a clinically significant reaction.

  • Most blood transfusions are administered to persons aged 60 years and older; therefore, most acute transfusion reactions also occur in this age group.

  • A decline in the titers of ABO antibodies after the sixth decade of life reduces the likelihood that the inadvertent transfusion of ABO-incompatible red cells will cause a severe fatal reaction. [53]

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